His mother wanted him home in Old Saybrook, Conn. for Christmas, no excuses, no matter what. His boss demanded that he spend Dec.25 in Lower Manhattan at the offices of the investment bank where he worked. There was a pitch to prepare and perfect before the managing director went on vacation in two days.
“It’s not as if I had a choice. It was be here or be fired,” says John (last name withheld), who was 23 at the time.
Knowing that he was going to have to disappoint someone, John picked his mother, even though she had warned him that he was being taken as a pawn and called his boss a Scrooge.
After all, “I knew I’d have a chance to redeem myself with Mom,” he says.
Regardless, John, who is now 34 and a managing director at a different Wall Street bank, now believes he made the wrong choice
His boss came into the office the following day, looked at what John and his co-workers had prepared and “shredded it,” demanding that they start all over.
“I called my mother that morning crying,” says John. “I was exhausted. I had given up Christmas with my family and hurt my mom. I was inconsolable.”
His mother prepared a plate of leftovers and a tin of Christmas cookies and made the two-hour drive to the city.
“I don’t know what she wanted to do more, give me a hug or a lecture about work-life balance,” he says.
Unfortunately, there is no balance when you’re in a two-year analyst program, says Roy Cohen, a career counselor and author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide” (FT Press). “Boundaries are unacceptable when you’re a new investment banking analyst. It’s always a scramble to get to the finish line,” he says.
In other words, John and his mother needed to “suck it up,” or find a different profession, Cohen says.
While most bosses don’t demand that their charges be in the office on Christmas, a survey conducted by West Unified Communications Services reveals that two out of three workers will check…